Orlando City SC

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Orlando City fire James O’Connor after 1.5 dreadful seasons

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Orlando City SC has fired its third (permanent) head coach in five MLS seasons, with James O’Connor the latest to come and go in short order on Monday.

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O’Connor was hired to replace head coach no. 2, Jason Kreis, in July 2018. He last exactly one and a half season — 51 games — and compiled a record of 11W-13D-27L, including a 2W-3D-12L run to finish the 2018 season. The Lions, while in playoff contention, went winless in their final eight games in 2019, conceding 18 goals during the stretch run. Orlando finished the season 11th in the Eastern Conference, eight points off a playoff place.

“On behalf of Orlando City we want to thank James for all of his efforts during his coaching tenure at Orlando,” the club’s statement read. “We wish James the best of luck in the next phase of his coaching career.”

[ MORE: Carlos Vela sets single season MLS goalscoring record ]

Orlando City, yet to make a playoff appearance since joining MLS in 2015, will begin its search for a new coach immediately.

Red Bulls escape Orlando with three points (video)

AP Photo/John Raoux
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The game in 200 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls needed a little help from the woodwork to escape Orlando with a victory on Sunday, and they got it — not once, not twice, but three times in the second half. After scoring the game’s only goal just past the half-hour mark, Luis Robles and Co., held on for dear life as Orlando City SC attacked with wave after wave of pressure. Robles made four saves, while the posts and crossbar made three more for him. Brian White scored the goal, assisted by Kaku, his seventh of the season. The victory sees the Red Bulls climb past New York City FC for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, now just a point back of D.C. United in third and two back of Atlanta United in second.

[ MORE: Pity proves his point as Atlanta tops DCU late (video) ]

Three moments that mattered

32′ — White finishes Kaku’s curling ball — Brian Rowe is unlucky not to make the save, but it would have been a grave crime against brilliance for this ball from Kaku not to result in a goal.

60′ — Ascues hits the crossbar — Woodwork.

77′ — Kljestan smashes the post — Woodwork again. The follow-up accidentally hits Robles as he’s lying on the ground.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles/posts and crossbar

Goalscorers: White (32′)

FOLLOW LIVE: Seattle v. Portland, ATLUTD v. DCU on a busy MLS Sunday

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Strap yourself in for a very busy Sunday of soccer, as four MLS games are set to consume your attention for the rest of the day.

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The day begins with Atlanta United hosting D.C. United in a 3-versus-2 matchup in the Eastern Conference, and ends with the Seattle Sounders hosting the Portland Timbers in arguably the biggest and best rivalry in MLS.

In between all that, a suddenly resurgent Orlando City SC hosts the New York Red Bulls, and FC Cincinnati hosts the red-hot (unbeaten in nine games) New England Revolution, in case you feel the need to cram a little more soccer into your afternoon/evening.

Sunday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. D.C. United — 4 p.m. ET
FC Cincinnati v. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Portland Timbers — 9:30 p.m. ET

Ebobisse scores in 82nd, Timbers come back to tie Orlando

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers had plenty of opportunities to score on Thursday night. They just had a tough time taking advantage of the chances.

Jeremy Ebobisse scored on a header in the 82nd minute soon after subbing in to give the Timbers a 1-1 tie with Orlando City on a night both teams were tested for defensive depth.

“We’re on the front foot for most of that 90 minutes,” Ebobisse said. “Unfortunately, one moment on the defensive side gave them a little bit more belief than we need a lot of teams to have when they’re playing us at home.”

Jorge Moreira crossed from the right wing to Brian Fernandez, who lowered to flick a header behind him to the open Ebobisse for the lone goal for the Timbers, who outshot Orlando (7-9-6) 26-2.

“Having two forwards in the box in Brian and I gave their center backs a lot more issues,” Ebobisse, who entered in the 61st minute, said. “That’s how it manifested itself with the goal.”

The Timbers (7-8-5) are unbeaten in their last four regular season games.

Santiago Patiño scored for Orlando off of a deflection in the box from Moreira in the 44th minute. Moreira intended to clear a cross out of the box, but it went right to Patino’s feet in the middle of the box.

It was Patino’s second goal and third start of the season.

The Timbers played short-handed in the back. Marco Farfan was injured in a 2-2 draw with Colorado on Saturday, a game in which center back Julio Cascante was given a one-game suspension for a red card. Outside back Jorge Villafana also is working his way back from injury.

Orlando City goalkeeper Brian Rowe finished with three saves. In a crowded box, Blanco got off a left-footed shot on the ground in the 17th minute, but missed wide right. In the 37th minute, Blanco headed Diego Valeri’s cross from the left wing, and though it got past Rowe’s outstretched arms, it hit the crossbar and bounced close enough for Rowe to corral. Rowe blocked another shot in the 43rd, a near-post low line drive by Fernandez.

Orlando City coach James O’Connor credited his back line – which played without center back Alex De John, who left the game after being kicked in the face in the 12th minute – for forcing Portland into shots from longer distances.

“I thought we defended really well,” O’Connor said. “I thought there was a togetherness to the team. Look, they’re a very good team, the Timbers, and put us in a lot of pressure, but I thought by-in-large, we coped pretty well and defended excellently.”

Less than 10 of Portland’s 26 shots came inside the box.

“As a team we agreed our decision-making in the final third wasn’t as clinical as we would have liked, maybe rushing a few decisions and not picking the right pass at the right moment,” Ebobisse said.

Orlando City is tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference; Portland currently sits in ninth place in the Western Conference.

LA Galaxy moves third in West with 1-0 win over Orlando

Associated Press
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A Jonathan dos Santos howitzer was enough to give the LA Galaxy a 1-0 win over Orlando City at home to move them into third place in the Western Conference standings.

The win not only boosted the Galaxy back up the standings but also stopped a brutal four-game losing skid that had threatened to erase the fabulous winning start to the season. It marks the club’s first clean sheet since a 0-0 draw with Minnesota United in late April.

The winner came in the 19th minute, a blast for his second goal of the season and first since mid March.

The clean sheet did not come easily. Dave Bingham stopped a Nani penalty in the 32nd minute after dos Santos tackled Sebastian Mendez in the area. Perry Kitchen – off the bench for his 2019 debut – was on hand to clear off the line after Bingham whiffed on a 68th minute Sacha Kljestan cross, while Bingham came up big three minutes later to stop a header by Chris Mueller off a corner.

Los Angeles’s victory moves them to 25 points, one behind Seattle who has a game in hand, and two ahead of Houston who has played three fewer games. For Orlando, they remain on 15 points, good for 10th in the East.